A bill establishing a community-based school system within public school districts was defeated, but then revived this week.
Senate Bill 68, which creates and funds Oceti Sakowin community-based schools, failed to pass the Senate on 14-20 vote on Monday (2/1), but on Tuesday (2/2) a vote reconsider – thus reopening debate and vote – passed on an 18-16 vote. The bill had previously passed the Senate Education committee.
Tuesday’s reconsideration vote opened the door for an amendment to be introduced to the bill, but also allowed for Joint Rule 5-17 to be invoked and the debate on the bill to be delayed for one legislative day. SB 68 will be discussed again on the Senate floor on Thursday (2/4).
The proposed amendments to the bill include changing the option of a public school board presented with an application for implementing a community-based school from how it must be approved if it meets the criteria in the bill to having a choice in the approval.
However, the bill still requires governance of the community-based school to be transferred to, as noted by a proponent of the bill, essentially a non-profit organization and separate governing board and raises the question as to whether the powers provided to a public school board by the constitution, legislature and local taxpayers to operate a school district and utilize tax dollars can be transferred.
Another proposed amendment to the bill notes the funding mechanism includes the state general fund dollars apportioned by the number of students admitted to the community-based school from the public school district and not the “portion of the total funding” from the school district, as is currently stated in SB 68.
Sen. Lee Schoenbeck expressed concern over “taking money away” from the school district opens the possibility of “leaving a lot people behind.”
Sen. Schoenbeck added the bill, which could establish four community-based schools in South Dakota, “is not good for the bulk of school districts in South Dakota” and that the concept opened by SB 68 “is not fair to children of this state to start down that charter school” path.
ASBSD opposes the bill.